Summertime means vacation time! And if you are still thinking about where to beat the heat this summer, "Travel and Leisure" magazine reveals the winners of their twelfth annual World's Best Awards poll. Here are their picks for the world's most amazing cities, islands and hotels for you to visit.
World’s best cities
General notes: T+L readers seek authentic experiences of place, whether it’s art and architecture in favorite European destinations like Florence, urban classics in New York or exotic cities such as Udaipur and Istanbul.
- Second consecutive year named World’s Best City (third time named World’s Best City in the 12 years of the survey).
- Readers love Florence for many things, in particular its culture, arts and shopping.
2) Buenos Aires
- This year’s No. 2 ranking is its highest ever in the WBA survey.
- Last year Buenos Aires ranked No. 7 among cities around the globe.
- Readers rated Buenos Aires high for value, shopping, restaurants and food.
- Has ranked consistently well in the survey over the years — was No. 3 among cities around the globe in 2006. Shopping and value are areas where Bangkok gets particularly high marks.
- Two of the top five hotels in Asia are in Bangkok.
- Last year Rome ranked No. 2.
- The city is loved especially for its sights, culture and arts.
- Has been named World’s Best City a total of eight times in the past 12 years of the survey.
- The city rates particularly high for its people.
6) New York City
- No. 1 city in the U.S. and Canada for the seventh consecutive year.
- Readers love New York for its food, restaurants and shopping, as well as culture and arts.
- New York City has more hotels on the list of top 100 hotels in the continental U.S. and Canada than any other city. The top-ranked NYC hotel is the St. Regis at No. 22 on list of top hotels in continental U.S. and Canada.
7) Udaipur, India
- Not in the list of top ten cities worldwide last year, but was ranked No. 7 on list of best cities in Asia last year.
- Readers appreciate the good value of this city.
- The No. 1 hotel in the world this year is in Udaipur (Oberoi Udaivilas).
- Was not in the list of top ten cities worldwide last year, but it has been in the top ten many times before.
- Readers love the sites and the culture and arts.
- The city’s Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet is ranked among the top five cities worldwide in this year’s survey and is the No. 1 hotel in Europe.
9) San Francisco
- Ranked No. 10 on world’s best cities list last year.
- Was named the best city in the U.S. and Canada from 1996 to 2000; in 2000 it was also named No. 1 city overall.
- Rates high for restaurants and food.
10) Cape Town
- Was ranked No. 6 on the list of world’s best cities last year.
- Rates high in the people category.
- It is also a good value and great place to go where you can visit a top-notch cosmopolitan city and then, in just a few hours, be in the heart of the African bush.
World’s best islands
General notes: Some T+L readers go in search of the natural wonders of islands such as the Galapagos, while others prefer a relaxing vacation in destinations like Maui.
- Named World’s Best Island for sixth consecutive time.
- Readers love the island for its people and the great value it offers.
- Rates high for activities, sites, restaurants and food.
- Ten of the top 25 hotels in Hawaii are on Maui.
- Kauai and Maui flipped positions from last year when Kauai was No. 2 and Maui was No. 3 among top islands around the globe.
- Recognized for standout natural attractions.
4) Galapagos Islands
- Ranked No. 8 on world’s best islands list last year.
- Rated the top island in Mexico and Central and South America in this year’s survey.
- Rates especially high for natural attractions, activities and sites.
- Best island in Europe in this year’s survey.
- Ranked No. 9 on list of world’s best islands last year.
- Rates high for restaurants and food.
6) Vancouver Island
- Was not on the list of top ten islands in the world in last year’s survey, but did rank No. 3 on the list of top islands in the continental U.S. and Canada last year.
- Island fared well for its activities and sites as well as food and restaurants.
- Small, intimate luxury lodges on the island are big with T+L readers: Last year, three of the top five hotels in the continental U.S. and Canada were on Vancouver Island.
- Was not on the list of top ten islands overall last year, but was on the list of top European islands last year — ranked No. 4 among European islands in 2006.
- Readers appreciate the great value the island offers travelers.
8) Phuket, Thailand
- Moves up from its No. 10 ranking in last year’s survey.
- Phuket stands out for its people and the value it offers visitors.
9) Big Island, Hawaii
- Was No. 7 on the top ten islands list last year.
- Fared well for its activities and sites.
10) Great Barrier Reef Islands
- Was not on the list of top ten islands last year.
- Noted for its activities and sights — islands have fantastic diving and snorkeling.
- Islands are home to a range of resorts including many luxe private island properties.
World’s best hotels overall
General notes: Asian hotels have consistently received high marks in the survey, but this year, for the first time, an Indian hotel took the No. 1 spot. There are also 13 hotels that are new to the top 100 hotels overall list this year. One of them is The Milestone in London (ranked among the top five overall).
1) Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur, India
Ranked No. 3 last year. Exceptionally well-run Mewari palace-style hotel (hand-painted murals, fountains, verdant gardens) on 30 acres overlooking Lake Pichola. Has 87 rooms; 2 restaurants; 1 bar. Architecture so luxe that the hotel itself has become a destination. The best rooms to book are the Premier Lake Views with access to a semiprivate pool. Don’t miss taking a yoga class with the spa's in-house yogi.
2) Singita Sabi Sand/Kruger National Park, South Africa
Last year’s World’s Best Hotel winner. Quartet of chic lodges ranging in style from mod-colonial (Boulders) to ultramodern (Lebombo). Has 45 rooms; 4 restaurants; 4 bars. It's Hollywood in the bush: modern architecture, winning service, and luxe amenities. The best rooms to book are airy glass-and-timber cabins at Lebombo Camp. Don’t miss afternoon tea (with candy) on the Lebombo deck.
3) The Oriental, Bangkok
Was No. 9 on list of World’s Best Hotels in 2006. Legendary 130-year-old hotel and new tower on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Has 393 rooms; 9 restaurants; 2 bars. It is a landmark property with friendly, down-to-earth staff. Best rooms to book at split-level Gardens are high-tech and traditional. Don’t miss tea in the Authors' Lounge, dedicated to former writer-guests (Somerset Maugham; Joseph Conrad).
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4) Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet
Historic property with Turkish-inspired interiors and a courtyard, next to Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace. Has 65 rooms; 1 restaurant; 1 bar. Has an unparalleled Old City location. When booking a room, request one with a partial Blue Mosque view, or splurge on a 4th-floor Deluxe with a large balcony. Don’t miss Sicilian chef Giancarlo Gottardo's modern Mediterranean dishes.
5) The Milestone, London
New hotel to the World’s Best Hotels list this year. Overlooks Kensington Palace. 45 guest rooms, 12 suites, and six apartments. The hotel’s 19th-century buildings were restored in 1998.
Best hotels in the Continental U.S. & Canada
General notes: Southern hotels lead the Continental U.S. and Canada, making up nearly a quarter of the list. Three South Carolina properties place in the top ten. T+L readers are impressed by Southern charm.
1) Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge, Gold Beach, Oregon
Ranked No. 16 on the list last year. Asian-influenced Mission-style lodge on the Rogue River's banks. Has 18 rooms; 2 houses; 1 restaurant; 1 bar. Outdoor activities (hiking, kayaking) and plenty of creature comforts (wine tastings, high-speed Internet). All rooms have great views; the 3-bedroom house has a fireplace and outdoor tub. Don’t miss having private dinner at the Tututni Waters Cabana.
2) Woodlands Resort & Inn, Summerville, South Carolina
Was not ranked in the list of top 100 hotels in the continental U.S. and Canada last year. Restored 1906 mansion on 42 forested acres, 30 minutes west of Charleston. There are 18 rooms; 1 cottage; 1 restaurant; 1 bar. A place where Southern charm meets European style. The best room to book is the bi-level No. 302, with a cupola and spiral staircase. Don’t miss a private 12-course feast at chef Tarver King's table.
3) Post Hotel & Spa, Lake Louise, Alberta
Was No. 35 on list of top hotels in continental U.S. and Canada last year. Quiet alpine resort with a 1942 lodge on the Pipestone River, 5 minutes from Lake Louise. There are 92 rooms; 5 cabins; 1 restaurant; 1 bar. This hotel has a more intimate feel than the region's other resorts. The best rooms to book are those in the original lodge, with wood-burning fireplaces, 2-person Jacuzzis, and king-size beds. Don’t miss the Alpine Aroma-Detox at the resort's Temple Mountain Spa.
4) Blantyre, Lenox, Massachusetts
Ranked No. 32 on list of best hotels in continental U.S. and Canada in 2006. Tudor-style 1902 manor with a pretty, all-wood spa and collection of antiques, on 117 acres in the Berkshires. Has 25 rooms; 1 restaurant, a peaceful setting, and history and charm to spare. The best rooms to book are Wyndhurst, with a bamboo canopy bed, and Dorr, with a private terrace; both are steps from the saunas and spa. Don’t miss the experience of packing one of the chef's gourmet picnics for a day exploring the mountains.
5) Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, South Carolina
Ranked No. 31 on last year’s list of top hotels in the continental U.S. and Canada. An oceanside estate with world-class golf and tennis facilities. 255 rooms; 3 restaurants; 2 bars. It has top-notch golf and a lovely beach on a barrier island just 30 minutes south of Charleston. The best room to book is No. 578, a corner room with three balconies. Don’t miss a bike ride along the paved trails of nearby Heron Park.
Top resorts in the Caribbean, Bermuda and the Bahamas
1) Jumby Bay, a Rosewood Resort, Antigua
Moves up from its No. 12 ranking in last year’s Caribbean/Bermuda/Bahamas survey. This year, in addition to ranking No. 1 in its region, it also ranks No. 14 among hotels worldwide. Secluded colonial-style property on a 300-acre island accessible only by boat. Has 40 suites; 11 villas; 2 restaurants; 3 bars. The resort is so exclusive and intimate that the rooms don't have keys and every staff member knows your name. The best rooms to book at the Rondavels, with wraparound terraces and outdoor showers. Don’t miss an in-room Chinese facial with legendary masseuse Su Hua.
2) Ladera, St. Lucia
Retains its No. 2 ranking from last year. Stylish eco-lodge surrounded by rain forest; beaches are a shuttle ride away. Has 21 suites; 6 villas; 1 restaurant; 1 bar. Offers every activity under the sun — astrology sessions, fashion shows, garden walks, mixology classes. The best rooms to book are the Gros Piton Suites, with a plunge pool, waterfall, and spectacular views. Don’t miss tagging along with chef Orlando Satchell on a trip to the market.
3) Jamaica Inn, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Moved up from its No. 16 ranking on last year’s list. Genteel low-rise retreat with simple interiors on one of the island’s best beaches. There are 47 suites; 4 cottages; 1 restaurant; 2 bars. This is one of Jamaica’s most romantic spots. The best rooms to book are those in the Beach Wing, right on the sand. T+L recommends taking a scenic bike tour through the Blue Mountains.
Best hotel in Hawaii
1) Four Seasons Resort, Hualalai, Hawaii
Also rated best hotel in Hawaii last year. Bungalow-style beachfront resort with 5 pools (including an aquarium for snorkeling), on the Kona coast. Has 243 rooms; 3 restaurants; 2 bars. The Big Island's only hotel with ocean views from every room. The best room to book for seclusion is the Palm Grove Crescent; for families, book the poolside Sea Shell Crescent. Don’t miss the Beach Tree Bar & Grill's Saturday buffet.
Best domestic airlines
1) Midwest Airlines
Moved up from its No. 2 spot in last year’s survey. Although this domestic airline flies to dozens of U.S. destinations, most of its flights originate from its hubs in Kansas City and Milwaukee. All of Midwest’s seats are leather. The distance between seats on their aircraft averages 33-34 inches (compared to 30 inches on most airlines) and seat widths of up to 21 inches, compared with the industry average of 17-18 inches. Midwest serves fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies onboard and they have a new dining program called Best Care Cuisine. Midwest's new (trans-fat-free) menu features Vanilla-Battered French Toast with Orange Pecan Butter, Roasted Herb Turkey Breast Basted with Red Onion Marmalade and Chicken Panini with Artichoke, Bacon, Tomato and Provolone Cheese, among other options.
2) JetBlue Airways
JetBlue was last year’s Best Domestic Airline winner. Readers appreciate the value the airline offers.
3) Hawaiian Airlines
Moved up from its No. 6 ranking in last year’s survey.
Best international airlines
1) Singapore Airlines
Has won the award for Best Domestic Airline all 12 years of the survey. Readers love the airline for a range of things, particularly service.
2) MaxJet Airways
New to the list this year. This new all-business class airline is noted for its comfortable cabins and provides good value.
Placed No. 2 on the list of best international airlines in last year’s survey. Fared particularly well for its food.
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